Hilbert Morales / EL OBSERVADOR
One way to manipulate a citizen’s logic is to provide some of the information, but not all of it. This happened some time ago when the CA High Speed Rail posted information online which omitted a very important point: Namely, that a comprehensive study of all 111 world’s high speed rail systems revealed that only three systems required no subsidies currently in operation. An article published in the San Jose Mercury News, author: Ralph Vartabedian, Tuesday, June 21, 2016, front page entitled “Bullet Train Officials Delete Warning on Need for Tax Dollars” needs to be read and understood by all those who voted for that $9 Billion High Speed Rail Project Bond”. It’s subheading states “A study of international high speed rail systems by four Silicon Valley experts found that California’s (HSR) system could be among the worst performing (HSR systems) in the world.”
“When a Spanish firm submitted a bid last year to help build the California Bullet Train, it cautioned that taxpayer’s money probably would be needed to keep the system operating. Having reviewed the data on 111 high speed train lines around the world, constructing giant FERROVIAL said that all but three could not make ends meet. More than likely, the CA HSR system will require large government subsidies for years to come. That warning was expunged from the version of FERROVIAL’s proposal posted on the (CA) state’s website. The only record of this was on the data disk provided to the Los Angeles Times and others under a public record request.”
It is doubtful that the current chief administrator of CA High Speed Rail Authority had anything to do with this vital information deletion. At least I hope so because this ‘tidbit’ undercuts all assertions that the CA HSR system will operate financially as a ‘break-even” system. CA’s taxpayers need to know if the state’s general funds will be needed because this may siphon off funds usually allocated to underwrite health care, education, social services, etc. As customary, it is the middle class and low income folks who end up being burdened or short changed.
What to do? At this juncture, I suggest that the CA HSR Authority start planning to build only its future HSR service from Bakersfield up the San Joaquin Valley to the Shasta Dam area. The HSR system service could be used to stimulate development of Northern California (i.e., lightly populated areas north of Sacramento). The commuters and commercial interests could use existing means to get on the CA HSR by going to connection points all up and down the valley. The outcome is a HSR system that does not need to immediately deal with laying tracks over mountains terrains. The outcome may be a ‘north-south HSR right of way which still allows commuters and freight to get to a destination within 8 hours.
The current CA HSR Authority needs to develop what is possible only between Bakersfield and Sacramento because ‘spurs’ to San Francisco and San Jose require laying HSR tracks over mountainous terrains…a very expensive undertaking. The Bakersfield-Sacramento HSR service will provide an opportunity to learn to operate HSR services. In the interim, the private sector will find ways to take freight only from San Francisco to Sacramento (or alternatively, from San Jose to Fresno) where the freight may be transferred to HSR for a quick ride to Bakersfield where trucks take over for the final ride to San Diego or Los Angeles. An alternative is to not build the CA-HSR system because it ends up requiring subsidies which invariably the middle class and low income folks will be burdened with.
At the minimum, this revelation emphasizes why the public must be able to monitor all governmental agencies and programs so as to ensure that full disclosures and transparency. And, to ensure that those who mis-inform the public are held responsible and accountable.
It is this sort of conduct which is, at its core, dishonest. This is what erodes the public trust and goodwill.